In the latest by Ramsay (Four Steps to Death, 1989, etc.), Amelia Cunningham, wife of a tenured English professor at a small college in Vermont, speculates that the various community venerables would be shocked out of their complacency if someone were to send them anonymous letters suggesting that the sender knew the recipients' dirty secrets. Then someone actually sends such letters, and one is found beside the deceased Katherine Ellsworth, who apparently committed suicide. Although Amelia didn't send the letters, she feels unbearable guilt over Katherine's death. Amelia eventually discovers that her good friend Suzanne authored the letters, and that the murderous one was not even addressed to Katherine Ellsworth but to her husband, William, who had seduced Suzanne's daughter. Suzanne convinces Amelia that Ellsworth, the charming head of the English department, murdered his wife, and the two of them concoct a blackmail scheme to prove his guilt. Unfortunately, the scheme goes awry, and Amelia is lucky to escape with her life—and the identity of the unlikely real murderer. A merely implausible plot is made ridiculous by Ramsay's inept prose.
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